When I returned home from university I moved back in with my parents. It became very clear very rapidly that this arrangement was just not going to work. We had all become used to our own freedom. So six months later I moved out into my first rented flat.
It was a tiny place above some storage rooms in a stone built barn. At one time or another it would have been the farm manager, or head groomsman’s accommodation. There was no heating except for an open fire which was in the sitting room. The flat centred around a large open staircase in the middle and landing area which each room coming off the landing. To say it was cold was an understatement. I took to taking a flask of hot drink to keep by my bed at night so when I woke up in the morning I could have a cup of coffee with out having to scamper through the chilly rooms.
I lasted around six months again before I realised that it was simply too cold and for similar rent I must be able to find something a little better.
A few weeks later a tiny cottage on the other side of the village green became available. I had to really bargain hard with the landlord, but thankfully he agreed to let me move in. It had heating, it had proper rooms, it had a tiny garden. I loved it.
Over time I became to know my neighbours rather well, and through discussion with them I learnt that the cottage I now lived in was once the stable block from the former Quaker Friends Meeting House which was tucked up next to me and where my neighbours now lived. We often joked about what we would find in the gardens as they were certainly over the Quaker Burial ground (Quakers don’t use headstones).
Then Mark Kopfler released his album Sailing to Philadelphia, which the title track is a duet with James Taylor (a favourite of my Dad) about the Maison Dixon Line in America. Jeremiah Dixon was not, as Mark sings, a Geordie boy; but a Durham lad, coming from Cockfield in County Durham, the next village from where I lived. Dixon was a Quaker Lad and quiet a rouge. He was oft’ worse for drink and found himself barred from many pubs (which still remain) in the village.
He came good in the end and has to his name one of the most famous divisional points in the Americas. He came home from his trips and died back in Cockfield in 1779 (two hundred years before I was born) and was buried in the Quaker Burial Ground in Staindrop. My future back garden. I was so proud of this amazing piece of geographical history which was quiet literally in my back garden.
I finally realised that though this cottage was lovely, I really should get my act together and buy some where. So in December 2003 I finally moved into my very own little cottage three miles up the road in Gainford. My friends, being ready to have a party at the drop of the hat ensured that I had a House Cooling Party before I moved (and promptly hosted a House Warming Party). We joked around that I should contact Mark Kopfler and explain about the connections with my cottage, and that I was having a party, and would he perhaps like to pop by and play a few tunes. I could guarantee him good food and local beer, a reasonable offer we thought. I never did though, and looking back I wonder what would have happened. Would he have ever answered? Would he have even said yes? I’ll never know.
We both love his music, and particularly his solo works which always make me think of home. Our first dance at our wedding was even to Mark’s Darling Pretty from his Golden Heart Album.
His new track which is being play on the radio at the moment is all about the Albion Lorries from Glasgow. Odd subject, but every time I hear it just make me think of Ian’s Dad who is really into his Historic Commercial Vehicles. I’m also very wistful over this track as I adore Mike McGoldrick’s whistle and John McCusker’s Fiddle.
I think the change in the weather is making me quiet home sick or perhaps just reflective, I’m not sure.